Hafner's collection exploded to 30,000
Indians slugger traded with a few friends in his small town
Growing up in a rural North Dakota town did not stop slugger Travis Hafner from collecting baseball cards when he was younger.
In fact, Hafner had a system for both collecting and trading cards even with few retail sources to buy cards and a limited group of friends with whom to trade. As a big leaguer, he's in much more crowded and bustling surroundings, but Hafner mastered his environment way back in Sykeston, N.D. He claims he collected 30,000 cards.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Whom did you collect when you were young?
Hafner: We had a satellite dish, so it was either the Orioles or the Braves. Those were the two teams we watched. I listened to the Twins on radio in the tractor. I collected Cal Ripken Jr., Eddie Murray cards. I liked David Justice and Dale Murphy. I liked watching Nolan Ryan pitch. But it was mainly hitters I collected.
Probably 1980 or 1981 was the earliest cards I had. I didn't get any vintage cards. That would be something interesting, to revisit the cards. They're back in the house I grew up in.
We had a few convenience stores about 15 miles away and they'd get cards in sometimes. You'd go to Bismarck or Fargo, and we'd stop in the card shops there.
MLBPLAYERS.com: How did you trade cards?
Hafner: I'd sit on the phone with my buddies an hour a day and we'd talk about which cards we'd want to trade. I always had the Beckett card magazine price guides. I'd want to get the rookie cards because they were worth more.
None of my buddies had the Beckett, so I'd always get the cards that were more and trade them the cheaper cards. They'd get a guy's rookie card and I'd give them a superstar player, a card worth 25 cents. That was worth it. There were probably three or four of us in a real small town of 150 people.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Where did you first appear on a card?
Hafner: The first time I was ever on a card was A ball, South Atlantic League, the Savannah (Ga.) Sand Gnats. It was a Savannah uniform. I was thinner. I was 21 at the time. It was a photo of my stance.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What's your favorite Major League card?
Hafner: I think the ones showing my swing, the action shots, are my favorites.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.